Sure, we've heard that you should eat spicy foods and run intervals, but we wanted a few more proven strategies to add to our post-2 a.m. pizza repertoire. Here are 4 metabolism-boosting strategies we're psyched to use this week.
Ditch the Treadmill
Trade in your treadmill jogs for this approach from Wayne Westcott, Ph.D., fitness research director at Quincy College in Quincy, Mass. Choose 8 strength moves and do 12 to 16 reps of each (taking 2 seconds to raise, and 2 seconds to lower the weight), without resting between moves. Repeat once. You're done in 20 minutes, but you'll jack up your resting metabolic rate by up to 9 percent for three days.
Eat Breakfast Within 90 Minutes of Waking
When you cut way back on calories, your body automatically puts the brakes on your metabolism. Your body thinks it's starving, so it slows down the metabolic process to conserve the carbs and fats it has on board. The best approach, according to registered dietician Stephanie Clarke, a contributing editor at SELF and co-founder of C&J Nutrition: Eat breakfast ASAP when you wake up in the morning (within 90 minutes of waking) and eat enough (at least 1200 calories) throughout the day, preferably waiting no more than 4 hours between meals or healthy snacks.
Make It a Spinach Frittata
OK, so it might have been a stretch when mom told you spinach will make you Popeye-strong, but this leafy green is packed with B vitamins and magnesium. "The great thing about B vitamins and magnesium is getting enough means that your metabolism will be more likely to work at its best, since these two nutrients are key players in the metabolic process," says Clarke. For breakfast, try this
Don't Skimp on Protein
Clarke recommends including protein at meals and with snacks. "It takes energy to metabolize food, whether it's protein, fat or carbohydrate," she says. "But it takes slightly more calories to metabolize protein."
Yes, it's that simple. When you feel frazzled and fried (you'll know because your heart is pounding, you're snapping at your hubby, etc.), your metabolism slows and body fat increases. Jolt your body out of survival mode with this 5-minute breathing exercise from Al Lee, co-author of Perfect Breathing: Transform Your Life One Breath at a Time:
Inhale through the nose for 3 solid seconds, imagining the breath traveling all the way down to your seat and filling your belly. Then exhale through your mouth or nose, pushing slightly with your abdominal muscles, for another 3 seconds.
Aim to do this exercise at least once a day (maybe aim for twice on particularly stressful days!) for 5 minutes. The goal is to feel good, not lightheaded (quit if you experience the latter).
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